Friday, March 20, 2009

Today, I was doing some work for my dad's construction company. I had to call companies he works with and make sure we had their current email address. As I was making the calls, I came across a company where the owner informed me that he didnt have an email address. He explained to me that due to the location of the company, the didnt have access to the Internet and it was too expanesive for them to drive to a location that did and check the email everyday. Instead, they just ask people to contact them by phone. He said that they were hoping to somehow get email in the near future and they would inform my dad's company as soon as they did. I found it interesting that the company was able to survive without email. I know that my dad's company sends out all their information via email and that is how they receive information as well. I wonder if this company isnt receiving this important information or if other companies are all taking the time to call them each time there is an update.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

AWESOME little segment

Above is a link to an 8 minutes video of "Shift Happens." The theme of the video completely parallels what we have discussed in class and discussion about the Third Revolution of technological change. The statistics are amazing, and a little daunting, but please take 8 minutes out of your day to watch this clip!!

Olivia Halls
Section 305

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Movie Response - Wildcard

At the beginning of the movie, I thought that the concept of the “New Tech” school was great. It was giving these students an edge on technology that the majority of the nation’s schools can’t provide, but as the movie continued, I was drawn farther and farther from the idea. I think the major problem with this system was shown through comparing the two teens that graduated. The one teen graduated with exemplary recognition and went on to a well-known technology institution. It’s obvious that the “New Tech” concept worked to his advantage. On the other hand, the other teen barely managed to graduate, and it seemed that he had many struggles while attending this high school. Although he was given a background in a specific type of technology, it may not benefit him in the future, which would make a complete waste out of the time, money, and other resources needed to give a “high-tech” education. I think it is absurd to think that all students learn in the same way, or even share the same interests for that matter. To me, life is about balance – the more balanced everything is, the better it works out for the majority of the population. This high school was far from being balanced. Our society is on the verge of a technology wave, but that doesn’t mean the ways of the past should be forgotten. For example, when I am doing a research paper, the first place I look for resources is the internet. As an engineer, much of my research calls for scholarly journals, most of which are not available online. I physically have to walk to the library where much of these resources are available. These students will have no such background. What if they can’t find what they’re looking for in their digital library, would they ever know where to look? It’s probable they don’t even know what the Dewey Decimal System is or how resources are archived. Having a library that contains both written material and digital material would allow all students to have a well-rounded background. On the same note, why can’t a school with high regards to technology also have athletics and other extracurricular activities? I feel that in the scheme of trying to expose students to one item, the school has completely forgotten about everything else student should be learning, and even more importantly experiencing, in high school. It just seems that this type of concept would produce a student body lacking individualism and whose educational background is way too focused for the majority of jobs available. We still need car mechanics, builders, and many other occupations that are not technology based, and classes which offer a hands-on approach are best suited for these types of positions. I would recommend to this high school that these types of disciplines not be forgotten, but rather offered in equally with regards to the other technology disciplines. A balanced and diverse student body with a background in technology will benefit society the greatest in the future.

Movie Response One

The four high school students, Luisa, Sidra, Travis, and Kep were all shown to be students with motivation and went beyond a normal teenager at the time to discover what technology had to offer. The ability to use technology, especially computers, benefited each student. However it was still hard to bridge the digital divide for some of the students no matter how much technology was incorporated into their lives. 
Luisa came from an area of low family income and was brought up on gangs. She was motivated enough to take multiple media and technology classes available to her, which helped her stray from the dangers of her neighborhood. But, because she grew up poor she didn't have the resources to purchase her own computer. This forced her to work as much as possible and as a results her grades suffered. She also missed the job at a technology firm. Luisa tried to bridge the digital divide it was too hard, despite being exposed to technology and was one of the few teenagers to pursue this, she was still unable to succeed how she wanted to because of her environment. 
Travis also grew up without money and in a single parent household. Even though he attended CalTech he barely graduated and could not afford to go to college, despite him being a bright student. Being financially deprived is the reason he was not able to go to college. His motivation to pursue a career in technology couldn't be taken to the next level because of this. 
There are multiple factors besides technology that influenced the future of the four high schoolers. It is very unfortunate that hard work and motivation during this time could not take Travis and Luis to the next level. To me it was a given that Sidra would go to a good school because of her family background and upbringing. Also, Kep was the American Dream story so it was favored that he would go to a good school with scholarships. I do believe technology influenced each of the four students, but it is unfortunate that income played a role in their happiness and future, despite being motivated, helpful, and bright students.

Prompt 5 Response

In the movie "Crossing the Divide," it was clear how financially disadvantaged neighborhoods and families often have harder time finding access to the internet in addition to many other tools to further their education. 
This was probably what came to my attention and what I identified the most with in my high school. Kids who come from lower income families who did not grow up in this environment or whose parents' jobs do not necessarily require it - have a harder time adjusting this technology to their daily activities and lives. So from that perspective, what the movie showed was very similar to my high school. 
The movie also touched on the fact that there are other issues influencing their trajectory to a better future in which technology cannot solve. In my opinion, at least from what I experienced when I went to my high school as a sophomore coming from Brazil, there's just not enough motivation to go to college afterwards or even to get a diploma. There are very low academic expectations for minorities such as latinos from parents, counselors - that blended with the peer pressure to avoid school - makes it very challenging for a latino to pursue a good academic path.  
Technology of course does not provide an ultimate solution for it, attitude amongst other things plays a huge role on it - however, what I felt that helped me a lot through high school to not fall away on my path to college was information. I felt that I was informed of my opportunities and chances for the future while some of other classmates seemed not aware of the different possible futures they could pursue. I learned a lot of the information through the internet. 
So just as information helped a lot of these kids from the film become successful in the workforce, it does not guarantee it - it is just a tool. As a proof of that are the other kids who had other factors (such as financial problems or peer pressure) weigh heavier in their decisions. I saw the same things in my high school with peers, and in my opinion, attitude is the most important factor although internet and other information tools are absolutely essential in influencing attitude - and maximizing an individual's productivity on a workforce.

The Challenges of Life: Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Prompt #1:

The influences in the lives of these students outside of their technology education all affect them, however the education can still play an important role in finding a solution to their problems. For Luisa, her technology education has not helped her get the specific job she wanted or to graduate yet, but eventually this will help. Her time tutoring students has developed her interpersonal and leadership skills and she can still tap into her computer education to graduate and find a different job, although it will take longer than she had hoped. In the long run these extra struggles will make her stronger and teach her how to balance time and to organize and her intrinsic skills as a worker will allow her to excel once her specific knowledge does develop well enough to graduate and get a job. This is similar to things I have seen in the military.

Individuals who had multiple experiences and challenges before joining the Navy were able to develop and advance faster than there peers. For me, having attended a good high school in Wisconsin helped me to develop academic skills that I used to develop my job skills. This was also true for people who went to college before they joined or had a background in their career field before they joined. Having participated in several extraciriculars and holding part-time jobs helped develop my organizational skills which helped me take on more responsibilities. I saw a similar effect in people who had to take on extra responsibilities at home such as child rearing or contributing to the household income. This is the sort of application that I believe helped Kep to excel the way he did.

Having a stressful transition to the United States, working in the family business, and learning English were all additional stresses that taught him to apply himself beyond the normal responsibilities of someone his age. Whereas Kep's extra-education was thrust upon him by circumstance (and he answered the challange remarkably) Sidra has been able to do the same voluntarily. By working as an editor for her school newspaper and apparently being part of other student activities she was able to develop in similar ways. This skills will help both of them in college. Travis's home life has had some of this but, in the short term it appears to have slowed him down. However, when he does go to school he will enter more experienced and more mature. In his case, I would reccomend the service and to enlist in a computer field. His eduacation and computer training will propel him into greater responsibilities and they will in turn, develop his overall abilities to be used in his future career.

On the whole, the variety of circumstance for four students that were provided training in technology will only be temporary impediments. The key in all four was access to the training.

Movie prompt 5 ;)

Things in this film looked dramatically different from my school experience. Perhaps it was the gap in years from this film to my high school graduation, but there was definitely a change. The one girl mentioned she had her first multimedia class her sophomore year of high school. To me, that was completely different than what I experienced. Even in elementary school we had computer time once a week with old clunky computers that printed on the paper with the ends you needed to tear off. It was basic things like arithmetic and a possible one page paper, but to us, it was great. We certainly didn't have to wait until high school for multimedia either, we had various coursed throughout school, and in sixth grade we had to develop our own web page.
This reminds me of another line from the film about how each generation receives more of an information benefit than its predecessor. I think that will always be the case. My brother was the first person in our family to buy a computer, and due to him buying it, I now had access to his. Every parent wants to provide the best for their children, so they get them the most modern things available, so the child has the most advantages, even over the parents. In Tracie Hall's paper the grandmother comments that she "never had nothin like this", and that was just a public library, look how far we've come since.
While things in the movie did seem outdated (the hairstyles), it just shows how quickly things change in the digital age. I often hear people talk about their younger siblings getting a cell phone or something at a much younger age than they did. As the movie stated access to the web is access to the world, and the time of a strong back and hardworking person being the epitome of a good employee are over. The American world is a competitive world in which every advantage is necessary.


PS: Did anyone else notice the high school guys were all going directly into business and the girls were teaching others and tutoring younger kids?

Movie Review

Prompt #2

At first, access seemed to be difficult for Luisa, Kep, and Travis, with only Sidra having simple access to a computer at home. Throughout class, we have learned that individuals and families with a lower income and poorer English language skills are less likely to have connectivity and are less likely to take advantage of their capability. Luisa's and Travis' lack of access could be based on their family's lower income and the fact that hardly any regular public high schools had full internet access. Kep's lack of access to the internet or a computer could be traced to his status as an immigrant, and the fact that some of his family did not speak English well or at all. 

On the other hand, Sidra comes from upper-middle class parents, and also lives in Silicon Valley where her high school was one of the first in the country to offer internet access to all of its students. Her connectivity and capability were both high as she readily used the internet at home and at school.

As the movie progressed, so did the availability for internet access for Luisa, Travis, and Kep. Luisa's connectivity was based on her hard work and determination to save up for a computer of her own to have in her home. Travis and Kep both decided to attend High Tech School where there is more than one computer available to each student.

In my opinion, High Tech School did not offer a full education. Almost everything was based around computers, with no English, Music, or Art departments. In today's technology crazy world, computer experience is very important to finding a job, but decent English skills, like reading and writing, are also vital in everyday life. Advanced computer skills can help you get a job, but in my opinion, English skills will help you keep one.

Movie Response #4

4. Think about the students' school environments and other environments (e.g. family, work, friends) surrounding them. What did you think of the approaches to technology in the three different school environments (Austin, Texas, Cupertino, California and Tech High in California)? Do you think any of the models are more successful than others at their mission? Is Tech High, without a football team and a library, the way of the future or an experiment likely to fail? Could a school like Luisa's in Austin ever catch up with others showcased? Give your opinion.

I think it is very surprising that the different high schools shown in the video can have such vast differences in the way they try to prepare their students for the world. In Tech High, there were more computers than actual students, and all of the students were very well versed in most computer tasks. I think it is a great skill to be able to use a computer and to know a lot about technology in today's hi-tech world, but computer skills are not the only thing needed to get a job or to succeed in life, and it seems like they are one of the only things being taught at Tech High. It is also important to be a well-rounded person, who has taken art classes, or who has learned leadership through being the football team captain. Tech High does not have art classes, sports teams, or even social events like dances. I think even though the Tech High students might graduate with more knowledge of computers, they are not necessarily more prepared for jobs that require more social skill, leadership, or well-roundedness.
On the other hand, Luisa's school in Austin, Texas has almost no technological focus. For some students there the computer lab is the first time they have ever used a computer. Clearly that is a disadvantage to them growing up, but Luisa did realize what she was missing out on and saved up and bought a computer which her younger siblings were able to use. Hopefully the trend of increasing technological interest continues to increase in Austin so the gap between the type of childhood in Austin and the Silicon Valley can be lessened.
Overall I do not think that Austin will ever catch up to the kind of technology used at Tech High. I think that the technology used there will eventually increase to an amount that provides the students with opportunities to go into a wide range of jobs, but not specifically computer jobs. I think at Tech High, the lack of sports teams and a library amoung other things will eventually force it to close. If the students do not learn the more personal skills required for the working world, even though they have a lot of computer knowledge, I do not think they will end up being the best candidate for jobs.

Movie Response

#5 Wildcard: For this prompt, come up with a response addressing moments that resonated strongly with you in the film (refer to your notes). Consider relating what you saw to your own high school experience. Did things look familiar? Radically different? Naively outdated?

What resonated the most with me was the tech school in Silicon Valley. I had no idea a school like that existed. I have always thought my school was technologically advanced for a school. I am now realizing that we did not even have enough computers for every student. Whereas the tech school had more computers than they did students. I was amazed with how much they learn in computers and how they are set up with business people to learn more and to get a foot in the door when it comes to careers.
I started to feel a little cheated by my high school as I watched the video on the digital divide. My high school focused on a rounded education, but other than sports they were not known for one particular achievement. Not being a sports person, I feel like I would have had a lot more opportunities if I had attended a school like the tech school in the Silicon Valley. Many high schools focus on a rounded education, so I don't feel that by having one it makes me any more different than any other high school graduate.
I will admit that there are differences that worked out in my favor. Since it was not a school focused purely on technology, I did get a well rounded education and I got to experience many different things. The tech school only seemed to have technology related classes. That does not give the students very many opportunities to try new things to get a feel for what they may be interested in. Having the opportunity to try different classes I was able to jump around from career option to career option in high school before deciding what I wanted to do. There are also a lot of social activities I feel the tech school is missing out on as well. So, they do have more technological advances and do have more opportunities when it comes to being placed in jobs, but my high school had a rounded curriculum and had what I feel should be the high school experience.

Movie Response #5

I found it very difficult to relate to the students that didn't attend Tech High and didn't have much experience using computers growing up. I could not imagine my life without my laptop. I spend most of my time on it, whether I'm typing a paper, checking my e-mail, roaming around aimlessly on Facebook, or just surfing the web in general. I do however realize that the film was made in the 90s and our nation has seen incredible advances in technology, and in turn, computer education at a young age over the past decade or so.
I cannot remember a time when I didn't have a computer in my school environment. Even in elementary school we had computers which would assist us in learning math through games or help us learn to type through tutorials. And the computers were never seen as an extra curricular activity. Instead, there were specific time slots utilized where we would sit down and educate ourselves through their persistent use. In retrospect, I can look back and realize how fortunate I was to grow up in the environment I did and can see now how bad it would have been (especially in this world we live in where it's necessary to be technologically informed) to not be exposed to a computer until high school like some of the students in the video.

I think it is a top priority to familiarize children with computers at a very young age because of how necessary they are becoming. I do not however think this is as much a problem today because of how prevalent they seem to be. But speaking strictly through the framework of the video, I think it's very likely that many of the students that went to say Luisa's high school would pursue a career with computers unless they already knew what they were all about. By not exposing them to computers at a young age, the students are intimidated and don't really have any drive to want to learn how to use them later on.

I also want to note that I disagree with the Tech High way of doing things. I think by being so narrow-minded (not having sports, libraries, or extracurriculars of any kind), they are in turn narrowing the minds of their students. They don't know what the students want to do with their lives, and neither do the students most likely. By not having these other options open, they are not allowing the students to make the decisions for themselves regarding what career path to take, and I think that is wrong.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Prompt 5

The part of the film that resonated the most with me was the fact that most people from Luisa's school had not touched a computer until they entered high school.  Obviously the fact that this film was made in the 90s was part of the reason for this.  But even so, hearing Luisa talk about how scarce computers were in her neighborhood really drove home the thought that the digital divide is just getting greater and greater.  My high school experience was quite unlike hers because I went to a high school in the new millennium, which by design would have more access to technology.  But also, my high school was in a middle-class to upper middle-class neighborhood.  We had many more resources and a lot more access to technology than Luisa's school did.  

My high school had numerous computer labs and a full time technician and computer consultant.  Our computer consultant would give us lessons on how to use computer programs to give us skills for later in life.  All written assignments that we did had to be turned in typed or the teacher would not accept it.  We took typing classes in elementary school and had to be proficient in typing by the end of the year.  From the video, I felt like Luisa's school did not have nearly as many opportunities as I was able to enjoy.  The fact that most people in her school had not even touched computers until high school, if then, is a striking contrast.  

However, even though she didn't have the kind of resources I had, she still was able to succeed in her field.  She knew more about computers than I did.  And the fact that she had to work harder for her computer and her computer skills, taking herself away from gang life and from the social life that surrounded her school, made her appreciate the technology more than I ever did.  Growing up around constant technology made me take it for granted.  Computers were not a rare and special thing for me.  For Luisa, however, computers posed a very interesting  and new challenge she equated with entry into the "real world."  The fact that she had to work for her computer made her appreciate technology more.  

Even though Luisa grew up in a more or less technologically devoid environment, she still managed to add computers to her life and build a career out of it (even though she failed her Photoshop exam).

Movie Response - Prompt 4

The thing I found most blaring to me from the video is that they started a school, New Tech High, that incorporated no athletics, extracurriculars, or even a library. I can see where the good intentions are coming from, but eliminating sports also eliminates lots and lots of skills that these children need in the future. Competition is a huge experience that children need to encounter to be successful in the career fields these days. Finding jobs isn't as easy as it used to be, nowadays, you have to win the job to get the job. And losing is just as important of a lesson as winning, you have to experience these events in a lifetime to be completely successful. But I could go on an on about how athletics can make you more viable for a job in the future. The simple fact is that the implications of losing athletics can be simply robust. New Tech High just doesn't seem like a complete high school to me, instead, it seems like it would suffice as a very very nice branch to a high school. These days, it seems like that is what is being done. Nice high schools seem to come equipped with a very souped up computer lab for the students. Ones that these days, rival that of New Tech High.

Movie Response-Prompt 5

While watching the movie, I was shocked by how much time the students at New Tech High spend on the computer. It seemed like every classroom in the school contained computers or another technological device. My high school had computer labs available to us as well as computers available to us in our school;s library, but very few of our classes were dependent on computers like many of theirs seemed to be.

My high school offered only five or six classes that worked with computers and I wish we had more. I would have loved to have been able to enhance my computer skills while in high school and left feeling confident in my technological skills like the students at New Tech High were. Also, I thought it was great to see all the internships that New Tech High offered there students. It allowed them to put the skills they gained in school to use and made their learning come alive. It would be awesome to have that type of opportunity to get a feel for what the work force is like and to explore what careers you may be interested in pursuing in the future.

I was surprised to hear that New Tech High doesn't contain any books in their library--it is all online. I feel like I would struggle not being able to just flip open a book when doing research, but I'm sure that once you adjust to this system it would be really useful and convenient. I wish the video would have showed the thoughts of the students on this system and whether or not they preferred this or having books.

I found it interesting how Travis seemed to blame his old friends lack of plans after high school on the fact that they attended the public school and not New Tech High. I attended the public school near my house and most of the students attending my school had very promising post graduation plans. Travis expressed that since he changed schools, he feels him and his friends have different attitudes about life. I don't think what school you attend, but more so how motivated you are to plan your life and how much support you have from your friends and family.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Prompt #1

Prompt #1

I can't say that I'm necessarily surprised at Luisa's fate. Let's see what she had on her plate now... Getting through high school, working insane hours every week, and studying for a rather difficult exam; I think this is way too easy, she should learn a new language while she is at it so people do not think she is slacking off. Kidding aside, when people have too much on their plate, they start drowning, and from the looks of it, everything collapsed around her because she was so busy doing stuff that she forgot to breathe. I understand her situation. The family isn't all that well off and she doesn't want to end up in some dead end job and stay down in the economic status she's in, but she needed to make some time for herself. We are not machines, we cannot always be going at 100% because we're going to have a mental/physical breakdown if we do. I hope that the lesson Luisa learned is not that she's a failure, but that she needs to find her limitations and then work within them.

Travis shows us a shining example of Murphy's law. If something is going to go wrong, it is going to be when you need it to work the most. Just look at the poor sap. He's got the camera rolling for what will be a national audience and he has this big ominous review board sitting in stiff chairs with even stiffer expressions on their faces. And come on, the suit? You can just tell that the last time he put something that fancy on was for someone's wedding or funeral. "Uh hello... T-t-this is my project that I have worked on for a long time, I'm very proud of it." And of course it fails to work, that should be an automatic job at Microsoft in my opinion, they are on exactly the same wavelength. Preparation reduces the likelihood of Murphy's law happening exponentially. But I give this to his credit: he can think on his feet. He did a good job of explaining what they should have seen, but as he said: "You can talk all you want, if you don't have anything to back it up, you're in trouble."

Moving on. Sidra and Kep are going to be combined in this paragraph because they were both such standout students and I also don't feel like making a fourth paragraph. In short, they got their stuff straight. What does Sidra have to boast about? She is obviously active in her school as she was holding a microphone at a school assembly. She also understands computers AND she helps out little kids. Seriously, karmic justice should see to it that a big suitcase full of money ends up in her general direction. Finding the time to help out those who are less well off gives you a boost of confidence and self-esteem, which in turn leads to increased performance which leads to more confidence etc. etc. etc. Sidra really benefitted from that self-confidence and it took her places. Kep can speak two languages, right? He was the only one who did surprise me a little. Immigration into a new country is a major life event and stressor, even if he was only two (he was two when they immigrated, right? Just going off memory here as I did not write that down). He could not have had it easy constantly going from one set of values to another (one set at home from a family that lived in a different country and then another set of values that America holds near and dear to its heart). He managed it well and got a good reward in the end, good for him.

All in all, it was an interesting video. It is always interesting to see how different people succeed and fail in different situations...

"Crossing the Divide" prompt #4

The students displayed in the documentary were very much influenced by their environment in determining their interests in the technology field. For example, Sidra was exposed to advance technology her entire life because of her father's occupation. Although, the largest factor that plays into the lives of the students is their education. I am excited that schools are moving into the technology generation, but am also torn at the degree some school are moving away from traditional schooling.

I believe Jane Healy, an educational psychologist, put it best when saying, “We want kids to be well rounded, reflective students.” Technology cannot replace teachers and online activity cannot and should not replace physical and social connection with others. I was repulsed that schools are removing sports and libraries and only focusing on computers and online activities. This reflects the opposite side of the digital divide, a division from normal, everyday activities in order to only focus on new technology. I do not want to be misunderstood, I am a firm believer that technology is improving our lives and education in ways that were not even thought of 10 years ago, but it cannot be the only source of education.

On the other hand, it was heartbreaking to hear Luisa’s story about her struggles to purchase a computer and do well in school because of all the pressures placed upon her due to where she lived and her economic status. In an ideal world, everyone would have the same opportunity to educational materials, but this difference in resources available places more opportunity in the hands of those to whom it is available. I do not think Luisa’s school can produce the same number or quality of students who are ready for the advanced, new world of technology and in turn will generate less students who have jobs in this field. Students, and even adults, are either favored or turned down due to their technology skills which is something most students have no control over.

"Crossing the Divide" Response

Wildcard: For this prompt, come up with a response addressing moments that resonated strongly with you in the film (refer to your notes). Consider relating what you saw to your own high school experience. Did things look familiar? Radically different? Naively outdated?

I think that our generation grew up during the time when the “gateway to new economy” occurred. I remember when I was in elementary school, the big wide Mac computers were popular and everyone wanted them. However, technology is constantly advancing in which our tastes from elementary school are different than those from high school and now. Now Mac books are the ideal laptops. To clarify my point, as the video demonstrated, in 1996, they launched a convention type event in which computer technology was introduced. Possibly for these reasons, my school held a computer class in which we learned the basics and understood how the computer can be used to complete various tasks efficiently.

In comparing my own high school experience to the video, I found some similarities and differences. I attended an all girl catholic high school. With that being said, we were all constantly encouraged to be strong competitive role models, where mass-media influences were countered, giving girls the freedom to decide for themselves who they are. Usually when people think of technology and science, minds automatically think that males play those roles. Therefore, in my school women were the dominating models. We had three computer centers that were available daily with supervisors around to answer any questions or help students that were having difficulties. However, the ratio of computers to students were not the same as Travis’ school. The New Tech high school had 250 computers for 220 students, but in talking solely about my class which consisted of a little less than 500 students, we had like 100 computers.

Another difference was that we were not nearly as encouraged as the students in the movie to use technology. Most of our classes occurred in classrooms where we took notes and did oral projects. We had some presentations that required us to use the computer programs, like PowerPoint. However, a technology based school did not guarantee success right after high school. Travis barely graduated and had to find a job. Luisa was preoccupied with her job that she graduated late. But Kep graduated and received scholarships to CalTech in continuing electrical engineering.

Overall, the distinctions outweighed the similarities. We live in a society that surrounds life around technology, which is advancing in every way. We depend on technology for everything, from work to leisure time.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Movie Response (Prompt 5)

While watching the film "Crossing the Divide", I was most struck with the atmosphere the students who attended New Technology High were surrounded by on a daily basis. The students were literally surrounded by computers, so many that they had more computers on campus than actual people. Because the curriculum was so focused on computer technology and training the students to become future business leaders and "top of the class" in math, science, and techonology when they graduate and go to college that the school doesn't seem to offer any classes in english or the arts. The school also does not have a football team or any other team sports, a library, or any of the traditional "highschool experiences" that every teen should experience before going off to college and later, the real world.
A second portion of the movie that I found to be interesting was the story of Luisa. She came from a school that was very involved in gang activity, however, she was able to realize that the gang life was not for her and instead channeled her life towards working to learn about the technological world. While working to learn about technology (and falling in love with it!), Luisa must keep a job at a local fast food restaurant and begins falling dangerously behind in her studies. Though I feel it is wonderful that she is so fascinated with computers, I feel that falling behind in her studies and having to graduate late because of this was not a smart decision on her part. Doing well in school should be a priority.

The school images shown in "Crossing the Divide" are extremely different from my high school experience with technology. Though we had adequate access to technology and the internet, the focus of education at Austin High School was not based on technology. A few classes are offered that are solely technology based but most classes were completed without much use of computers. If we did have to use the internet for research most of it was done at home; the schools in the movie seemed to do most of their research and assignments on the computers available at the school. Overall, I feel that a school that was a mix between my highschool and tech high school would be the best place to complete a highschool education.


Wildcard: For this prompt, come up with a response addressing
moments that resonated strongly with you in the film (refer to your
notes). Consider relating what you saw to your own high school
experience. Did things look familiar? Radically different? Naively
I am going to discuss the wildcard and talk a little bit about prompt 4. The moments which resonated strongly with me were mostly about interviews on Kep. Kep, who is an immigrant, through going to Tech high, really achieve the goal of crossing the divide. I think being an immigrant means you need to adjust yourself to the new environment and at the same time learn a lot from it. So I am very happy to see that Tech high provides a place for immigrants like Kep have the same opportunity to catch up with not only the new technology which is very useful in the workplace but also develop the other useful skills like leadership, teamwork.
This film was made probably at least 7 or 8 years ago(I forgot the exact date), but compared with my high school experience, their extremely high accessible to the new technology still surprised me a lot. Maybe because I went to high school in China which does not have as same as the facility or capability in America. It seems that they almost spend everyday in computer room, while in my high school, most of times the class is taught in classroom. The good side of Tech high is after graduating, everybody has a great confidence in using computer, I mean applying the new technology in workplace. However, when I graduated from high school, I seem to lack this kind of confidence. Actually, I began to learn most technology in college. Then when I was doing an internship in my freshmen year, I felt really frustrate at using new technology. So I think it is very important to teach the students new technology in high school because if students can not go to college they may not have chance and time to learn it. However, I do not support that all high schools should be operated like Tech high which do not have foot team or library. Tech high, in my mind is more like a training center not a really high school. I also remember some comments from the film talking about that the goal of education is not about teaching students how to find a job but how to be a person, I totally agree with it. I think students in Tech high are very lucky to learn more about new technology but at the same time their high school education is not completed. Maybe they learned a lot about using computer but he do not have a chance in high school to develop other skills or interests like music or chemistry. Although watching a football game in high school will help you find a job, the enjoyment brought to you is a wonderful and necessary experience.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Prompt 4

Though conceptually schools should be equal across the country, in reality this isn’t possible. Too many other factors come into play, such as how much funding the school receives or how much support from the surrounding community. The three schools from the video, “Crossing the Divide,” were all extremely different as far their capabilities went. The high school in Austin, Texas, had barely any access to technology, the high school in Cupertino, California had very good access, and Tech High in California was all about access to technology. Both the high schools in California far surpassed the one in Texas as far as technology goes, and so they seemed like superior schools.

But while schools have a large impact on a student’s direction in life, they are not the only deciding factor. Though Travis attended Tech High and was highly involved with computers throughout high school, he still only just managed to graduate. After high school, he did not attend college, opting to first find a job and save money. Kep, on the other hand, received an award for student of the year and got a full scholarship for college. Though they graduated from the same high school, both took very different paths after graduation.

Now, I don’t know if a school like Luisa’s could ever catch up to ones like Sidra’s or Travis’s and Kep’s, simply because of those outside factors such as funding and surrounding community. But that doesn’t mean the students themselves can’t catch up. For example, though Luisa had little access to technology and had to save for three years to buy her own computer, she worked with what she could. Though she didn’t manage to pass the Photoshop exam, she still tried to. While a factor such as a less technologically advantaged school can initially impede a student, if he or she has enough motivation, I believe he or she can overcome a boundary such as that. Look at Kep. Even though he did have the opportunity to attend the highly advanced Tech High, that wasn’t necessarily the reason he did so well there. If he had gone to a school like Luisa’s, he might not have learned quite as much about technology, but he still probably would have done well. Technology is just a means to the end, not the end itself.

Movie Response (Prompt 5)

One of the things that really stuck out to me in the video we watched in discussion was when the narrator was talking about a supposed debate on whether or not high schools across the nation should be equipped with computers.

I think it's kind of funny (or ironic?), because this video must be slightly outdated. In my experience growing up in my school district (Kimberly, Wisconsin) and in in every district I've ever been to, computers and internet are used heavily in class. Even in elementary school, I remember going to the computer lab, equipped with Macs, to learn how to do research projects. In High School, we'd often go to the lab for an entire class (often 3-4 days in a row), just to "research" our topics for projects or papers.

What I'm trying to say is that in my own experience, it's not a debate as to whether or not schools across the nation have decided to adapt computers/internet as part of the learning and teaching method.

My school was also a leader in this state with incorporating technology into the classroom. My senior year, I took a class that was strictly for video and movie making. We learned to film movies, edit them, and mix audio. There were no tests or quizzes, just 90 minutes of movie making every day. We used Adobe Premiere (the same program that the children used in the video to animate their clay animals)

Also, we were offered a large selection of computer science courses. These differed courses differed greatly. A student could take a class devoted to animation and Flash, web page creation with Dreamweaver, or program scripting.

I noticed that the things I saw at New Tech High in Napa were things that I think my high school was definitely capable of teaching. I'm guessing that the video we saw was created in the late 90's (1998 maybe), so that just goes to show you how quickly technology changes. In the video there was a quote that said something like "the tools that these kids learn to use will be outdated in 6-7 months, so they have to keep learning".

I'm sure now, New Tech High has much greater technology and teaching capabilities with its students.

Movie Response: Prompt #4

This film highlighted the importance of computers and technology as tools in education. The film focused on three high schools, each varying in terms of emphasis and access to technology. First, Travis High School in Austin, Texas was shown. Upon introduction to this high school, the audience quickly learns of the significant presence of gangs and graffiti. Only 1/4 of the student population graduates from high school. With this high school, the digital divide was discussed in the sense that by not offering students access to technology/computers, it will negatively affect their ability to look and obtain jobs. Access to computers/technology is what would allow them to be competitive in the job market and without it, they have an unfair disadvantage against those who could afford computers and have been exposed to them all of their lives. It was mentioned that only 1 in 12 students attending Travis High School would have a chance to access computers sometime in the first twelve grades. I think that this environment is right to be worried about a digital divide, when some students are working forty hours a week just to save up for a computer. If the school system was able to offer more computers and access to technology, students could be spending less time working and more time studying to enhance their chances of graduating high school, or for those who are working, they could be saving money for college or their life after high school. Additionally, if programs using computers and technology were offered, it may increase the chance for students to stay in school. When we talked about libraries in the beginning of the semester, it was mentioned that when cities put more money into libraries to provide them with access to resources, it makes people living there feel more valuable. In this case, if the school system put more money into tools like computers, perhaps students would feel that their time in high school is being well spent and would have less of a desire to drop out. Also, if high school was offering them something that they would probably not have access to in any other place (computers) that would also be an incentive to continue going.


In Technology High School, the circumstances were much different. They were able to provide a computer for each student and emphasized that their school work should work towards a plan for the future (something, they mention, that is not stressed in regular high school). Here, technology was expressed in terms of being important to the students' futures because jobs constantly require new skills. They talk about how skills become obsolete so quickly in technological fields and the only way to keep up would be to have constant access to computers and updated software. What was especially interesting about Technology High School was that they believed you needed more than just technological know how, they said you must have problem solving skills, critical thinking, and teamwork/group skills. They applied this by providing students with assignments that would have to use all of these skills and tested students, not using multiple choice exams, but by having them apply their knowledge to problem sets etc. Technology High School also only had an online library, they did not provide their students books. I do not think this is a direct disadvantage to the students there because it forces them to enhance their online research skills which is necessary in the work force and in college.


Lastly, in Monta Vista High School, so much of the focus was on technology that some students exclaimed that other concentrations, such as English, were very weak as a result. Personally, having attended a magnet high school that concentrated very much on technology, math, and science, I have first hand experience of receiving an education that lacks in English, History, and Foreign Language. Although I took four years of English, three of History, and four of Spanish during my high school years, these classes were never taken as seriously as my math and sciences. I believe that this is a downfall of high schools like the one I attended and like Monta Vista because they are not offering students a well-rounded education. In the workforce, it will of course be an advantage if students are well-versed at using computers, yet it will be a noticeable disadvantage for them to have weaker English Skills. For example, in order to obtain a job, many employers ask for a cover letter and resume. Without strong writing skills, a student's cover letter or resume may not stand out amongst a pile of other individuals, and they will never get a chance to use their valuable computer skills. In almost any industry, strong writing skills are called on for reports, correspondences, work summaries, and more. So to have an education that does not emphasize the importance of writing and English, is definitely something that may have negative implications in the future. Furthermore, it was mentioned that Monta Vista High School had such high costs for the technology they offer students, that they had less money for other spending such as staff. This can also be a disadvantage if this means they will have less funding for extra curricular activities and other programs to offer students. Although these are not necessary aspects of an education, it helps students be well-rounded and grow both socially and mentally.  Skills gained from organization and clubs may be the ones that end up helping students the most in college or the workforce and thus should not be easily cast aside for excessive technology.


Another unique element of Monta Vista High School was that they conducted a high school education in terms of a 'training force for corporate business'. This definitely serves as an asset for students in terms of necessary skills (like Technology High School mentioned) such as critical thinking, teamwork, and applying their knowledge in various ways. Although, if many students graduate and go onto to college, they may not be prepared for a University atmosphere where they have to be incredibly independent, have strong time management skills, and study for tests made up of multiple choice questions.